Jack - "security is one of the few professions that offers great flexibility"
“I spend a lot of my time searching people’s bags, checking for alcohol, especially in a place like this, where it’s widely sold on the premises. Sometimes I’m met with resistance and I’ll be like: ‘can I search your bag?’ and they’ll say: ‘why you gotta search my bag?’
There’s a comfortable work/life balance to be had
It’s like they don’t understand that it’s a necessary precaution, that I’m just doing my job. Of course, If they refuse, then I can’t let them in, which can sometimes cause tension, but it rarely happens. Most of the time people are friendly and willing to cooperate.
Unlike most of my colleagues, I only do this job part-time because I’m studying at uni. It’s been just over a year since I begun working in this sector and I started last summer – after my first year at university. It’s all very convenient because security is one of the few professions that offers great flexibility. If I worked in a restaurant for example, I’d be contracted for fixed days and fixed hours, whereas security is different. Currently, I work for a company called Headline Security. It’s shift based work and although the hours are long, (they range from ten to twelve) it means I can work fewer days a week which frees up my time. There’s a comfortable work/life balance to be had and I think that’s crucial in any job.
Whether full-time or part-time, doing a job like this, there’s a great sense of responsibility I feel when performing it. I think it stems from dealing with large crowds of people, there’s just so much to be mindful of: parents with children, the homeless, young people, potential thieves, I could probably go on. When I first started this job, I was a little nervous. As with any new job, there’s always a part of you that feels fear. I guess you could call it a fear of the unknown. Like most jobs, this fear tends to fade with time as you build your confidence, but security is different. There’s always the possibility that something scary could happen at any moment, at any given time. Weeks and even months could pass where the threat is minimal, and you start to think to yourself: this job is so chilled! But when something does happen, you feel as though the rug has been pulled from beneath you. I think that’s what appeals to me most about this job, the fact that things can change unexpectedly. It keeps you on your toes and teaches you to be aware of absolutely everything.
A music festival I worked at recently, a huge fight broke out. One minute I was seeing happy faces and dancing bodies, and the next, I saw a group of men suddenly pile into one other, trading violent blows and shouts of abuse. It was the first and only time I’d ever witnessed something unpleasant on the job. I was new to it back then, so you can imagine how intimidated I felt. Fortunately, one of the senior security guards was on-hand to deal with it, and a response team soon arrived. Although I wasn’t directly involved, I was stood very close to the incident and could have easily got hurt. So now, when I’m on patrol, my mind is always switched on and my eyes never miss a thing. It’s exposure to these kinds of incidents that make you better at your job.
In terms of the work I’ve done, I’d say it’s been quite varied. As mentioned earlier, I’ve worked at music festivals and I think of all the types of venue, this is probably my favourite. Despite the obvious dangers, there’s something appealing about being in the thick of swaying crowds and loud music. It’s a great atmosphere to work in. On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve worked at university graduations – again, large crowds but not as exciting. Currently, I work at The Real Food Market at Southbank Centre Square, right next to the London Eye. The role requires me to stand by the entrance and monitor people coming and going. In some cases, I will search their bags as well as keep an eye on the surrounding areas.
While I continue my studies, I think I’ll stick with a career in security, and maybe beyond, as something to fall back on. I’ve met people who have done this work for many years and that’s got to mean something. It’s a career that can offer inroads to many industries, and while the work itself can be challenging at times, it always feels fresh.”
“Full-time or part-time, there's a great sense of responsibility I feel.”
Read the stories behind the licenses.
Real people | Real stories
Tell us your licensed life story.